Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sensor usefulness in Women, proof of concept

Much of what has been previously been discussed in regards to low load training(without cuffs) has been performed in male athletic individuals.  This population will generally have larger muscle mass and previous work with strength exercise.  Given the size of the sensor, it may not be technically possible to measure muscle O2 drop in other non athletic/muscular populations.  In addition, it is possible that a smaller muscle will not be capable of showing desaturation with low load contractions.  In using a low load protocol, we are taking advantage of the intramuscular pressure increase (as we contract the muscle) as our "blood flow restricter" - not a tourniquet or cuff. 
So that brings us to what about women, less muscular body types?  Is the BSX sensor (or Moxy) still valid as a guide to training.  The literature does have many examples of low load training in females but little about muscle O2 tracking.  I looked at this recently and was pleasantly surprised that it appears a valid concept.

The "volunteer" was a middle age female, age 50's, about 120 lbs, recreational training on a somewhat irregular basis.  So certainly either a typical rehab subject, or an adult who is interested in better muscle mass and physical conditioning.

This is a tracing of a chest press at a 30-40% 1RM weight, sensor on upper chest, each set about 60 sec, 60 sec rest.  We are using the reverse drop set method just described in the last post.  The first set is about 15% less than usual, second set usual low load, last set 15% above.

        35 % 1RM    60 sec effort   60 sec rest     60 sec effort   75 sec rest         60 sec effort             

As can be noted, there is very respectable deoxygenation on each set, quite similar to my previous efforts.  Proper placement of the sensor, tight skin contact is essential, which if not done will give poor results.  So if you are trying to repeat this, make sure this is understood.

Next tracing is done with a pulldown, sensor on lats (reverse drop set -15%, 0, +15 of 30-40% 1RM)
Similar protocol as the chest press, 60+- sec sets with about 60 sec rest.

 30-40 % 1RM    60s at -15% effort   60s rest   60s effort        75s rest        60s at +15% effort              

Again, reasonable O2 drops, not as deep as mine but still present.  Of note, I did not search for the "best" spot on the muscle, I have seen tremendous variation in saturation change with minimal placement changes, it will always difficult to compare one person to another or even one session to
the next.

Nest, sensor on biceps, 8 lbs curl, 45 sec effort, 45 sec rest x 3 sets.
Note the excellent total hemoglobin drops with each set as well indicating muscular compression effect:

Very similar tracing on the lateral raise, sensor on deltoid, 45 sec effort, 45 sec rests:

In conclusion:
  • It appears that even with lower muscle mass, lower absolute strength, the concept of using desaturation as a guide in training is possible.  
  • Further exploration in other muscle groups and the effects of skin thickness(different body fat distribution in females) will need to be done. 
  • I will be doing more work looking at this in this demographic population in the future.

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